The Montreal Port Authority has slammed a strike notice from dockworkers’ union CUPE Local 375 that will close seven terminals from Monday 26 April.
The strike notice covers seven terminals: Cast, Maisonneuve, Racine, Viau (container), Logistec terminals in Montreal and Contrecoeur (dry bulk), plus the CanEst and Lantic Sugar facilities. Not impacted are: Liquid bulk handling, the Oceanex service connecting Montreal to Newfoundland (Bickerdike Terminal), and the Grain terminal (Viterra).
The strike notice is an escalation from the overtime ban and one shift restriction CUPE 373 had earlier implemented. The Montreal Port Authority (MPA) said it “deplores a situation that will seriously and tangibly impact the local population and SMEs due to a total shutdown of port operations for an indefinite period of time. The situation actually starts today, given the partial strike already underway for the weekend”.
The strike is not unexpected, and the MPA noted that “shipping lines have been rerouting certain vessels to competing ports”. Speculation that the Federal Government would pass back to work legislation ordering CUPE 375 back to work was confirmed on Sunday, 25 April When Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi gave notice that such a bill could be tabled as early as Wednesday, 28 April if the dispute is not resolved.
As well as disruption to the economy, The MPA is concerned about congestion and the potential for some cargo to move permanently, as the strike creates an opportunity for the Port of Saint John in New Brunswick and Halifax to grow their container business. The MPA said the “recent partial strike” had already resulted in a backlog of close to 10,000 TEU in the port, and the 19 day strike at the port in 2020 cost it 80,000 TEU in lost business.
"The Port of Montreal is a strategic infrastructure that serves import and export companies as well as the citizens of Quebec and the rest of Canada. This new work stoppage hinders the key role that port operations play in the economic recovery and will have a significant and very concrete impact on the population and SMEs here," said Martin Imbleau, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Montreal Port Authority. "We’re talking about raw materials for our factories, computers for working from home and fresh exotic fruits that can no longer get to our docks, and maple syrup and pork from Quebec producers that can no longer be distributed around the world via the Port of Montreal. So, it’s urgent that the two parties come to an agreement."